Home News Local News NMMI to study opening private day academy for middle schoolers

NMMI to study opening private day academy for middle schoolers

A private middle school academy would help prepare students to attend high school and junior college at the New Mexico Military Institute, the school’s president says. (Submitted Photo)

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The New Mexico Military Institute is studying the possibility of opening a private day academy for seventh and eighth graders.

Maj. Gen. Jerry Grizzle, president and superintendent of the Institute, talked briefly about the idea Thursday with members of the Board of Regents, who met online.

Chief of Staff Col. David West said later that the Institute has not established a timeframe for establishing a new school, as Institute leadership just received approval to study the concept.

Grizzle said a private academy would ensure that youth are prepared to enter NMMI high school in the ninth grade.

“We need to start our own feeder school to continue the headcount and the quality of the individual we are receiving,” he said.

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Trustee Brad Christmas said he supports the idea and gave his thoughts that many students do not meet the minimum entry requirements for the high school, a boarding school that enrolls about 420 to 450 students a semester.

The Institute also has a junior college, which enrolls about the same number of cadets each semester.

Total enrollment during the current semester is 736, with 11 applications pending.

Grizzle said he thinks local demand exists for a middle school program.

“The feedback we have always had from Roswell was that, if we were a day school, we would have double the size of classroom buildings of the Institute,” he said.

The academy could be situated directly to the west of the current campus, or Post, as Grizzle explained that the Institute owns about six blocks of property on North Kentucky Avenue between West College Boulevard and West 19th Street.

Grizzle said he envisioned the academy would be an independent private school, rather than a charter or public school. He said the Institute’s high school is not affiliated with the New Mexico Public Education Department and that he would want the academy to be independent as well.

The Institute is considered a specialty school. The high school receives scholarship funding from the New Mexico Legislature, benefits from state capital outlay funding and is one of the beneficiaries of payments from the New Mexico Land Grant Permanent Fund.

In fact, Grizzle said, if a current legislative proposal passes to increase disbursements of the Land Grant Permanent Fund by 1% each year, he has asked that legislators include the Institute and not just early education programs in that increased funding. He said he would use the estimated $4.5 million a year from that additional disbursement to create the academy.

Roswell has a few religious-affiliated private schools serving middle school grades, and New Mexico has both religious and non-religious private day schools for sixth to 12th grade. The non-religious schools include Albuquerque Academy, Bosque School and Sandia Prep, all in Albuquerque.

Grizzle also said the middle school academy is just one of several initiatives the Institute is considering as it plans for future growth. Another is offering an online program for prior cadets who left the Institute before completing a degree.

The remote degree program is due to be considered soon by the NMMI Faculty Senate. It also would have to be approved by the Higher Learning Commission, the accreditation body for the junior college. The Institute would like to introduce that program by the 2022-23 academic year.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.